The real dream

The Green Car

Landis Everson

Defend me. I am not capable.
The river sweeps by three minutes at once
cleansing me of guilt. But the bear
crashes through it and breaches my
He rages and frightens my innocence.

The psychologist says, “You are the bear.
You are the river.
You are the green car
crossing the bridge. Defend yourself.”

But the green car
is in a forest I have failed to speak to.
The green car was never intended
to drive in that forest,
not cross a bridge
that must not exist in a real dream.
Further, the real dream
defends itself.

found here.


I’ve been waking up a lot at night and early in the morning. I have always been a vivid dreamer, but right now all of my dreams are impossibly episodic. After some enjoyable storylines last night, I dreamt that I was sitting in the back of a school bus, tormenting the children who were riding home. I was not myself; I was some sort of sinister entity with Bradburyesque mind-control powers, and I embodied and amplified the fears of the passengers until they cried. It was not a pleasant dream to remember upon waking unnecessarily early at six. I don’t hold a lot of stock with dream interpretation (though I’m apt to find it sort of compelling, and sometimes fun), but I am interested in my own emotional responses to my dream life. I was basically horrified.

The fertilizer for this dream was a day that began, in most respects, as total crap. Yesterday morning we all got up early because A. and I both needed to have some routine bloodwork done. The medical system in this province is entirely different from those with which we grew up, and we were sent to local independent lab to have the blood drawn instead of having it done at the doctor’s office during the appointments at which the bloodwork was deemed necessary. We had to cart along Miss N., who despite a raging head cold behaved charmingly toward the staff. It was raining buckets. As usual, my arm veins proved impossible to locate. Half an hour later and minus several crucial millilitres of B+/O-, we tramped back into the rain. N. and I drove A. to work and then, in a fit of guilt and industry, I took N. to storytime at the library.

We’ve been home now for almost three full months, and I have not been doing a very good job at reintegrating myself with society at large. N. is still sorely lacking in toddler pals, and I, in mom-friends. Partly this stems from my homebody tendencies, and partly from pure sloth. But I really miss having conversations with other women who understand and don’t care that we will be constantly, inevitably interrupted by our offspring. In Germany I made friends with an ideal companion, whose son was just ten days younger than N. She was a complete extrovert, always up for trips to the playground, and a loud, unembarrassed, unapologetic beginner at German. Whenever we took the kids out for lunch, the wait staff didn’t even let her say “Guten Tag” before switching to English, which in turn relieved me of all pressure to attempt any conversation in German. I was always grateful.

But I digress. I’m trying to meet new people; I’m working hard at it. And N. enjoys getting out and being a ham in front of others. So we went to storytime. Naturally she refused to tolerate it, sprinting from the meeting room into the children’s department, bashing away at the multicoloured computer keyboards, throwing herself at the large stuffed animals ranged about the place. Due to the rain, I had parked in the paid lot underneath the projecting second floor of the building, which I normally never do. Our time on the meter was up, and so I scooped up N., now fully in the throes of a tantrum, and stood in line at the checkout. She wriggled away and dashed back to the fun stuff. Repeat. I got her in the car, still screaming, and in reversing out of the space and trying to avoid running over some small children, managed to grind the car’s fender against the massive concrete pillar holding up the library’s second floor, heretofore in my blind spot. (Later, the insurance agent would ask my husband if I was certain that there was “no damage to public property.” Um, no. Giant eff-off concrete pillar, 1; modest hatchback, 0.)

We both shouted with frustration all the way home. I aspire to be a rolls-with-the-punches kind of mother, one who takes deep breaths and looks on the bright side and all that, but mostly I fail and then promptly resolve to do better. I know it does precious little good to lose it, especially when N. is already distraught; what memory will she have of moments like these when she’s grown? I shudder to think of the bus passengers in my dream, requiring reassurance and receiving none, especially not from me.

At any rate, the day turned when we got home, had lunch, and N. went for a much-needed nap. The mail came, and it was good: a parcel of books from a dear university friend, and a copy of a literary magazine in which a poem of mine appears. I won runner-up in the magazine’s annual verse competition, which came as a shock, but a really good one, as when I opened the front door on Monday to discover that the weather was too fine for jackets, and demanded a walk to the park.

For Poetry Wednesday.


2 responses to “The real dream

  1. When people leave their name on the PW list on my blog, I don’t receive any kind of notification, and somehow yours always slips in and I only realize it days later. So I saw this several days late during some hectic moment when I couldn’t read it adequately, but scanned down and saw that your poem won runner-up. That is so exciting! Congratulations! I cannot say that I’m surprised. You use words so well and with such great care. I would love to read the poem (I followed the link, but I guess it must be in print only?).

    After a somewhat crazy week I’ve been finally able to sit down tonight and give this post the time and attention it obviously deserves. I love the poem.

    Some days I too behave terribly– TERRIBLY –toward and/or in front of my children. Then the next day (or moment) I resolve to do better, and usually manage to do so (I have to give myself some credit). A friend of mine recently made the observation to me that being a “good” mother is all about the ability to self-correct. It’s an ongoing process. I keep returning to this idea as maybe the most comforting and realistic definition of a good mother that I have found.

    • It was good to chat yesterday, despite Norah’s daylight savings fury! I’m also tardy in seeing this just now. That is a deeply comforting thought about self-correction. I feel like I should stick it on the fridge.

      Yes, it’s not online, but I have a digital offprint somewhere in my email which I’ll send along. There’ll also be an interview on the magazine’s blog sometime soon.

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